Friday, December 24, 2010

What Was the Star of Bethlehem?

[Nb: This is reposted from Philippine Commentary 2005--DJB=]
SINCE NO ONE SEEMS TO KNOW THE ANSWER, I have made it a habit, indulged in around Christmas time, to write an essay based on the best conjectures, past and present, as to what exactly the author of the Gospel According to Matthew might have been referring to in this famous passage --
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and are come to worship him." When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him." -- Matthew 2:1-10
The Griffith Observatory provides an authoritative set of links to various investigations into the astronomical mystery of the Star of Bethlehem, assuming of course that Matthew was reporting a real observation of something that was perhaps an abiding mystery even then. Check out this video animation -- it gives a quick visual introduction to the theories that have been favored for centuries.

PLANETARY CONJUNCTIONS: The planets of the solar system move roughly within the same plane of revolution, or slice of space, around the sun. It sometimes happens that they seem to be right on top of one another in the night sky. A planetary conjunction is rare and remarkable enough that ancient peoples have invested them with portentous or momentous meanings, just like eclipses and other unusual astronomical and atmospheric phenomena. For example on August 12 in the year 3 B.C. there was a CONJUNCTION in the sky between the planets Venus and Jupiter in the constellation Leo and near the star Regulus, an event that would have been known to astute skywatchers and astrologers of that era, such as "the Maji." According to John Mosely, Leo was the tribal sign of Judah, the tribe to which the forebears of Jesus of Nazareth are said to have belonged. To the Babylonians and Persians, Jupiter was the Planet of Kings, Regulus the Star of the Kings, and Venus (named Ishtar) was the Goddess of the Female Spirit. Of course the idea of moving Christmas to August may keep this particular theory, just that. But see the video animation for a good idea of how this actually looks from the perspective of someone on the ground, one Holy Night, ABOUT 2000 years ago, plus or minus 10 years!

COMETS like Halley's have been an attractive model for the Star of Bethlehem, though this particularly famous one, HALLEY'S COMET which last returned in 1986, was far away in the far reaches of the Solar System, far out in the middle of its orbit in the Oort Cloud, during the most likely period of Jesus's birth in Bethlehem. The related phenomena of METEORS is probably not a good candidate however, because a meteorite usually lasts only a few seconds at the most during its fiery descent to Earth, and would not be expected to behave like the object described by Matthew. The nice thing about comets is it usually takes months to appear from out of nowhere, come careening towards the sun and back out again -- just the time-scale needed by the Three Kings to follow a celestial signal. But no such comet with a suitable orbit has been found. If the Star of Bethlehem was comet, perhaps its orbital period is longer than 2000 years, since it has not yet returned.

SUPERNOVA EXPLOSIONS are mysterious, titanic stellar explosions that produce extremely bright objects in the night sky, sometimes brighter than the containing galaxy, for a period of weeks or months. (Again, the right time frame to qualify as the Star of Bethlehem in the Gospel story). However, it seems that supernovae usually leave visible remnants. For example, the most famous supernova remnant is what is today known as the CRAB NEBULA, which was first observed and recorded by Chinese astronomers in 1054 AD. Today it is known that the Crab Nebula is the location of a PULSAR, a rapidly spinning, extremely dense NEUTRON STAR. The Crab Nebula is pictured nearby. Another famous supernova remnant is something called Kepler's Star, which is associated with a really famous name in astronomy, JOHANNES KEPLER. Carl Sagan reportedly referred to Kepler as the "last scientific astrologer in history." Kepler's work is associated with other famous names like TYCHO BRAHE and GALILEO GALILEI.

NEAR EARTH OBJECTS LIKE APOPHIS: About a week ago I read the following amazing article in the GUARDIAN --
In Egyptian myth, Apophis was the ancient spirit of evil and destruction, a demon that was determined to plunge the world into eternal darkness.A fitting name, astronomers reasoned, for a menace now hurtling towards Earth from outerspace. Scientists are monitoring the progress of a 390-metre wide asteroid discovered last year that is potentially on a collision course with the planet, and are imploring governments to decide on a strategy for dealing with it. Nasa has estimated that an impact from Apophis, which has an outside chance of hitting the Earth in 2036, would release more than 100,000 times the energy released in the nuclear blast over Hiroshima. Thousands of square kilometres would be directly affected by the blast but the whole of the Earth would see the effects of the dust released into the atmosphere.
Well you heard it here first folks. THE END OF THE WORLD could come in 31 YEARS. Seriously. At the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., there has been for several years a serious effort to discover, monitor and track these NEAR EARTH ORBITING ASTEROIDS which are all over the Solar System, but in particular near the orbits of the Earth, Mars and Jupiter. The concern is real, and now it looks like they have found at least one asteroid, 390 meters across, that IS on a collision course with the Earth and has good chance of hitting it.

THE THREE KINGS AS SCIENTISTS AND ASTRONOMERS:No discussion of the Star of Bethlehem can possibly be complete without touching upon the names of the three MAJI who followed the Star of Bethlehem to Christendom's greatest discovery -- Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. There are perhaps as many theories about who they were as speculations on the nature of the Star of Bethlehem. But here is a very unusual and charming essay about the Three Maji arguing rather cogently that they were free spirits, scientists, astronomers AND kings --
The Wise Men were not scientists only but kings also. Practically, this meant that they did not have to seek funding from a university, a foundation, or a government agency, and so they did not have to modify their research project to fit the notions fashionable in those bodies. Their royalty also meant that they had certain advantages in traveling from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and that they could deal with other kings, like Herod, on an equal footing. It also gave them the practical savvy to use and to evade the likes of Herod, as prudence might require.

More importantly, their kingship furnished their minds with an important body of knowledge that enabled them to recognize the full meaning of their research results. As kings they understood things like authority and obedience, jurisdiction and sovereignty, legality and equity. As "pure" scientists—who refuse to go beyond the confines of their discipline—they would have been constrained only to record their observations on the Star of Bethlehem; they could not even have moved on to the scientist's cherished "predictability" or "repeatability" for the behavior of this star was altogether unique. In other words, these kings were able to know a King when they saw one, despite the limitations of their science's vocabulary and procedures.

Their legal and practical knowledge was apparently supplemented by some skill at literary and historical research, for they had enough sense to enquire among Herod's scholars about the legends and prophecies in Hebrew tradition and then to sort through them to find material pertinent to their astronomical observations.
Perhaps we cannot find the Star of Bethlehem out in the largeness of the Night, but rather, in the depths of our soul.


We three kings of Orient are,
bearing gifts we traverse afar,
field and fountain,
moor and mountain,
following yonder star.
O star of wonder, star of night,
star with royal beauty bright;
westward leading, still proceeding,
guide us to thy perfect light!

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain,
gold I bring to crown him again,
King for ever,
ceasing never
over us all to reign.

Frankincense to offer have I:
incense owns a Deity nigh;
prayer and praising,
gladly raising,
worship him, God Most High.

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing,
bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

Glorious now behold him arise,
King and God and Sacrifice;
heaven sings
alleluia; alleluia
the earth replies.

Words: John Henry Hopkins, Jr., 1857

No Rizalist! Now is not the time to talk about DARK ENERGY.
And quit playing around with that REAL TIME SOLAR SYSTEM ORRERY already.

UPDATE: Philippine Commentary is following BREAKING NEWS ITEMS today, including President Bush's Oval Office Speech and doings in OZ at THE ARCHIPELAGO CALLED EARTH.

Monday, November 29, 2010

9.9% -- Chance of 84 Successive No-Winner Grand Lotto Draws

According to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office the Jackpot Prize that someone could've won during the 84th Grand Lotto Draw the other day was a whopping 693 million pesos. During the upcoming Draw tonight, the Jackpot is likely to exceed 700 million pesos.  But how likely was this RUN of 84 successive No Winner Draws of the Grand Lotto?  What was the mathematical probability of 84 No Winner Grand Lotto Draws?  I think I can answer this question with a good estimate based on some numbers mentioned by Margie Juico of the PCSO on TV this morning, specifically that there have been 84 Draws since this run began.

First of all, there are 28, 989, 675 possible six number combinations in Grand Lotto 6/55.  
The chance that on any given Draw there will be NO WINNER--depends on what percentage of these nearly 29 million possible combinations are actually placed as 20 peso bets by the Public.  This percentage varies from Draw to Draw. For example when it started as a P30 Million jackpot there were probably much fewer bettors than tonight's Monday Draw which could award a jackpot exceeding P700 Million. 

But what percentage of the 29 million possible 6 number combinations actually ARE placed as bets?

We can estimate the AVERAGE  number of bets placed during each of the last 84 draws from some things that PCSO's chair MARGE JUICO  told ABSCBN's Karen Davila on Headstart this morning.  She said that for each peso bet, 15% goes to PCSO, 30% to Charity and 55% to Jackpots (less 2% to the Operators!). Since the Jackpot is now about P700M after 84 successive no winner Draws (3 times a week since last May), this implies a total of (700million/53%) or 1.32 Billion pesos has been bet since May. Assuming there is negligible duplication of 20 peso bets this means that an AVERAGE of about 780,000 unique bets have been placed during each of the last 84 GrandLotto Draws.  

1.32 billion/(20*84) = 786,163 bets on an "average Draw"

Even though there may now be millions of bets being placed, there were surely far less during the early draws when the Jackpot was much smaller.  

If only 786,163 unique bets out of 28,989,765 are placed on a given Draw, the probability that there will be a winner is

786,16/28,989,765 = 2.7% is the chance of a winner being drawn or 97.3% is the chance of no winner during each draw.

So what are the chances that 84 times in a row, there would be NO WINNER of the Grand Lotto Jackpot? The answer of course is 97.3% raised to the 84th power or 

.973 multiplied by itself 84 times or a slighty improbable 9.9%

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bernas Defends Intent As An Element of Judicial Plagiarism

JOAQUIN BERNAS, S.J. defends the centrality of malicious intent as an element of Judicial Plagiarism in his PDI column, Sounding Board. In the piece About Plagiarism, Fr. Bernas quotes an essay of Margaret Randall's:

In the case of plagiarism, by contrast, Randall asserts, ‘Identifying plagiarism entails ascribing to an agent a series of guilty or fraudulent intentions, the necessity to show intent, in order to establish guilt, or at least degrees of it, is by far the most important of all criteria for establishing plagiarism.’ Intention is relevant not just in the sense that the copying is deliberate, but also in terms of a further intention, sometimes referred to in criminal law as an ulterior intent, to claim the credit by passing [off] the work as one’s own.”

But is intent always required? The author goes on to add: “While some institutional statements explicitly include unintentional copying and non-attribution within their definition of plagiarism, the centrality of the element of deceit or bad faith suggests that, at least outside the academic sphere (where, as Groom observes, the concern is really with cheating rather than plagiarism in its literary or artistic context) intention should be key to a charge of plagiarism.”
I actually like the idea of making intent central to Judicial Plagiarism.

In doing so, Fr. Bernas in effect, chains the tenant Justices of the Supreme Court to a Ticking Nuclear Bomb which will explode if malicious intent ever IS proved. For example: if a PATTERN of PLAGIARISM should ever be established in their recent jurisprudence. In their Compliance to the Show Cause Order of SCoRP, the UP Law's Malcolm 37 have begun that clinical demonstration of judicial plagiarism as defined by SCoRP and now Bernas--right within the corpus delicti that is Vinuya v. Executive Secretary.  Moreover, there is also another SCoRP decision, already final and executory, in the Ang Ladlad case, that is also tainted with plagiarism. It was also written by Justice Mariano Del Castillo and promulgated just two days before Vinuya last April.

Father Bernas is driving the Court deeper into the Quagmire of plagiarism that they have dug themselves with two highly immoderate and unwise actions: (1) the unethical manner by which the Ethics Committee formed by Chief Justice Corona exonerated their colleague, when all five members had concurred with Del Castillo unqualifiedly in Vinuya to begin with; and (2) the Show Cause Order against the UP Law Faculty, which was really a Resolution finding them guilty of violating professional canons of behavior delivered in a Notice of Judgment with an order for them to show cause why they should not be punished according to the vindictive whims of the Court!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

On Freedom of Assembly and the Religious Services

If we consider the Catholic Church to be equivalent to a "Non Government Organization (NGO)" under the 1987 Constitution, then we are forced to the conclusion that the Catholic Mass is equivalent to Mass Demonstrations such as those daily conducted by activist groups, party lists or other cause advocates. All such activities are first order forms of Free Speech and are specifically covered by the Freedom of Assembly. In addition, religious services are covered by the Bill of Rights provisions on Religion.

The Bill of Rights Art. III Sec. 5 of the 1987 Constitution declares--
(5a) No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. (Principle of State Neutrality)
(5b) The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. (Principle of Equal Liberty)
(5c) No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights. (Principle of Secular Morality)
It would not constitute legitimate exercise of free speech, in my opinion, if persons not allied with an organization that was conducting such a mass demonstration, were to demand a place on the stage or in the proceedings just by showing up, and then unfurl some symbol or message that could cause tumult or disorder. For example anti-communist activists like ANAD have no legitimate place in a Bayan Muna rally if they want to display slogans against JoMa or the NPA. But they may do so at their own rally and can expect a similar exclusion of any hypothetical pro-communist activists bent on provoking a confrontation.

Clearly, organizers have a right to police their ranks and their venues to prevent the unruly presence of PROVOCATEURS bent on disturbing the peace. It's like crying "Fire!" in a crowded theatre, especially if provocation leads to a violent confrontation. Such persons however, have an equal right to make their own mass demonstration, and there engage in their own free speech.

Friday, November 19, 2010

U.P. Law Faculty Comply With Supreme Court Show Cause Order In Vinuya Plagiarism Scandal

(Manila, Philippines) Marvic Leonen, Dean of the College of Law, University of the Philippines said this on his UPLAWDEAN Page a few minutes ago:
Today, we filed a pleading called a “Compliance” for faculty members that were made respondents in the administrative matter entitled In re: Letter of the UP Law Faculty entitled “Restoring Integrity”. Accompanying this Compliance is a Manifestation on behalf of Dr. Owen Lynch, a research fellow and a visiting professor from the United States, and a separate supplemental submission from the Dean of the UP College of Law in response to his separate citations. 
We are represented by a number of prominent law firms, lawyers and the Free Legal Assistance Group. They spent a considerable amount of time working with us to come out with a respectful yet principled defense that can be filed at the soonest possible time.
So as not be seen as waiving this possible defense, we have simply reserved the due process rights in our Compliance. These rights were also pointed out in the dissents to the Order requiring us to submit an explanation. What we were served was a full Resolution covered by a Notice of Judgment. The Resolution made findings of fact and law. We were not heard at first instance. 
In our Compliance, we emphasized that our statement entitled Restoring Integrity was a fair comment on a published (and still uncorrected) decision of the Supreme Court in Vinuya versus Executive Secretary. The underlying intention in the expression of opinion of the faculty of the UP College of law is in the statement itself. It was and remains “to defend the integrity and credibility of the entire supreme court”, in the light of the perceived plagiarism and misrepresentation that was committed. It was issued in discharge of the solemn duties and trust reposed upon us as teachers in the profession of law and as members of the Bar to speak out on a matter of public concern and one that is of vital interest to us. 
Our statement was issued so that the Court could urgently act to correct a wrong so as to inspire confidence in the legal system rather than to lessen it. Various individuals and academic institutions here and abroad had, by then, noticed the failures in attribution and misrepresentations. We still continue to call on the Court to institute ways and means to prevent similar occurrences. We are more than willing to sit down with the Court’s representatives and contribute our academic resources to find ways to lessen its docket as well as to continue to improve court staff’s ability to do research. 
Public critique of a published decision is different from disrespect of the Court that makes such a decision. Law professors are the most likely experts within the legal profession to be able to assist the public understand these decisions. They should be expected to be independent and candid in their assessments. Critique will always come with some degree of irreverence. Otherwise those who wish to speak their truths may not be able to address those in power. We teach our students that injustice suffered by those who are powerless deserve their most effective voice. We teach them that that is what ennobles our calling as lawyers.
Timidity within the legal academia may result in a failure of democracy. From the point of view of the traditions of the University of the Philippines, it would have been a betrayal of our role as part of the national university if we failed to speak out on what we perceived as an injustice. We did not wish to betray our role as an academic institution especially on the eve of our centennial as an institution. 
We thank all those who have publicly and privately expressed their support for what we stand for. Despite our circumstances, we ask that we all continue to be vigilant. We ask that, with all due respect, we continue to discharge our right to examine and comment on the decisions and procedures of our judiciary. This way we can constructively assist our Supreme Court find creative and lasting solutions to bring about the kind of justice that all our peoples deserve.

Marvic M.V.F. Leonen
Dean and Professor of Law
University of the Philippines
Tel and fax: 9270518
The Supreme Court's Show Cause Order to which this reply applies is also here on Dean Leonen's website.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Arithmetic of Number Coding and How It Fools Everybody

Number coding is a Mental Scam.  There is NEVER a Reduction in the Volume or Number of Vehicles potentially present on a given roadway--even with 100% Compliance with Number Coding.
Number coding should be abolished.  Mathematicians and statisticians ought to assure the public that nothing much would change except MMDA has to do things the hard way: by fairly enforcing traffic laws, removing obstructions and illegal vehicles from the roadways. MMDA should quit promoting official innumeracy with mental trickery involving percentages and absolute numbers!

Monday, November 15, 2010

How Much Do You Need To "Buy" the Grand Lotto 6/55?

Filipinos are a gambling nation so news has really excited them that one of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes lotteries has reached a jackpot of over a half a billion pesos for a single bet of 20 pesos. It has everyone buying tickets ("who knows?") -- even OFWs abroad who are getting friends and relatives in the Archipelago of Pacquiao to buy them a chance to win.  Of course at these high jackpots, some billionaire tayps may be thinking of ways to "buy" the jackpot by betting on all the possible bets. But how much would be needed and is it really smart to do it?

There are 28,989,675 unique 6 number combinations to be chosen from the numbers 1 to 55. At 20 pesos each you need 579,793,500 pesos to "buy" the Grand Lotto, i.e., to place a bet on each possible 6 number combination. Since no winner was found in the draw today, the next draw could be worth about 580 million pesos. You would win for sure but profit would only be P206,500. Unless someone else wins, in which case you lose a quarter of billion pesos! More if there are two or more winners.

At the heart of this is a very famous mathematical formula for the number of unique Combinations of R things selected from a larger collection of N things:
C(R, N) = N!/(R!(N-R)!)

It's probably not a good idea to "buy" the Grand Lotto until it's worth about a billion pesos!
[This post was inspired by a Tweet from @Kakanturing (Tony Velasquez)]

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Great Debate

Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, Patricia Churchland, Lawrence Krauss, Peter Singer, Roger Bingham tackle the Big Question: Can Science replace Religion on the matter of Morality?

Social Media As An Anti-Corruption Weapon

In the wake of the twittered "gaffe" by Presidential speechwriter Mai Mislang on Vietnam's wine, men and roadways,  the President's communications team felt obliged to issue guidelines to all government officials and employees on the use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Although they have reportedly been approved by Pres. Aquino, spokesperson Abigail Valte said these Guidelines will not yet be released and implemented because of Constitutional and legal concerns.  The Daily Tribune did not hesitate to call the Guidelines all but  censorship by too sensitive a  Presidency.

In this post I examine the possibility of using Social Media in the anti-corruption campaign. The more that one million employees of the government are uniquely positioned to act as watchdogs and whistleblowers.  But Congress must provide the appropriate laws and facilities.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On the Proposed K-12 Basic Education System

The Philippines currently offers a ten year public school system to provide basic education, namely six years of tuition-free grade school and four years of high school.  Since most children begin entering school at six years old however, those who do finish the entire program end up graduating from high school at around 16 years old.  Many critics and educators point out that at this age the high school graduate is not old enough to execute legal contracts  such as for employment or business so that those who want to work immediately after high school are hard pressed to find productive occupations.  Perhaps that is why even the best of them drift into ... politics! through the SK system (but that's another topic.) At the same time, even among those intending to go to college many are emotionally and academically unprepared at 16 to effectively undertake college level study. In part this is due to our short ten year elementary and secondary school curricula.

A major agenda item for the Dept of Education (DepEd) is the proposed K-12 Basic Education System (PDF) which would represent a major expansion of the present ten year public school program to thirteen years.  The PDF file above  discusses the rationale, design and implementation plan of DepEd.  In this post I consider some of the problems and challenges attendant upon the K-12 proposal.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Education's Agenda

SECRETARY ARMIN LUISTRO  has issued a Press Statement on his First One Hundred Days at the Dept. of Education.  From the looks of things he has a full plate as he lays out a 10-point Education Agenda for the next six years and beyond:
(1) the 12-year basic education cycle,   
(2) universal preschooling for all,
(3) Madaris Education,
(4) technical vocational education,
(5) “Every Child a Reader” by Grade 1,
(6) Science and Math proficiency,
(7) assistance to private schools as essential partners in basic education,
(8) rationalization of the medium of instruction,
(9) quality textbooks, and 
(10) partnering with Local Governments to build years more schools.
I shall have occasion in the coming weeks to look at each of these in some detail...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Benedict's Biology

POPE BENEDICT XVI  is in Spain. Independent Catholic News covers his itinerary and statements in detail. 

But I was struck by something the Pope said today, after embracing the statue of St. James the Greater in Compostela de Santiago, and meeting with the Prince and Princess of Asturias.
"Truth and freedom are closely and necessarily related", he added. 
"Honestly seeking and aspiring to truth is the condition of authentic freedom. One cannot live without the other. The Church, which desires to serve unreservedly the human person and his dignity, stands at the service of both truth and freedom. She cannot renounce either, because what is at stake is man himself, because she is moved by love for man, 'the only creature on earth which God has wanted for its own sake', and because without this aspiration for truth, justice and freedom, man would lose his very self.
There have been many creatures on Earth, all of them creations of the very God which Pope Benedict worships. Estimates of the number of species that have ever existed on Earth--plants, animals, multicellular organisms of all kinds--range from 750 million to 7.5 billion individual species. 

That homo sapiens sapiens ("Man") is unique among God's creatures in the sense that Benedict claims--that he alone has God wanted for his own sake!--this claim I find to be extravagantly illogical given the facts of life on Earth as we know them.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Religious Test Is Required To See If Religious Feelings Were Offended

Performance artist CARLOS CELDRAN has been charged under a little-used 1930 law in the Revised Penal Code:

Art. 133. Offending the religious feelings. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.

Art. 133 criminalizes  acts notoriously offensive to the religious feelings of the faithful.

Not just any old feelings, mind you, but the RELIGIOUS feelings of the Faithful! This law is very specific and ought not to be used for every circumstance of VEXATION of feelings that so easily arises among people.  If one is to be convicted of the crime of "Offending the Religious Feelings" it had better BE religious feelings that are offended.

Monday, November 1, 2010

CBCP's Double Damaso Rule on Fathers Fathering Children

Padre Damaso is alive and well in the 21st Century. The troubles of Carlos Celdran are ample proof of this!  So the topic of this post is relevant to both local and international concerns...

There was a Protest March against clerical sex abuse at the Vatican yesterday--

Citizens of 12 countries who suffered sexual abuse by Catholic priests today gathered in Rome for a protest march on the Vatican.
Wearing t-shirts reading: "Enough!" in English, Italian and German, the organisers of the candlelit march demanded that the UN recognise the systematic sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity.
Philippine Commentary supports the above proposal to make the sexual abuse of children a Crime Against Humanity, along with the rape and sexual slavery of women during war time conflicts, which have been the subject of much recent Commentary here.

The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines has had its share of clerical sexual scandals, including this incident just last July where the Bishop of Boac has rejected calls for an investigation into child sex abuse allegations against a priest in his diocese.  (Does this sound familiar from the horrific cauldron that was Boston?)

In the early part of this decade Mass Media reported freely on the reproductive activities of several high profile Catholic Church hierarchs, including Bishops: the famous fathers fathering children scandals.

In response to this the CBCP Permanent Council approved in September, 2003 the document Pastoral Guidelines on Sexual Abuses and Misconduct by the Clergy, drafted by the present Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales of Manila.  He was interviewed by the Catholic press agency UCA News about the issue of clerical sexual abuse in the Philippine jurisdiction. I reproduce the entire interview to share with readers a really in-depth look at the successor to the most famous Jaime Cardinal Sin.

It is a long interview but it includes Cardinal Rosales rationale for a rule that allows Bishops to continue serving even if they have illegitimately fathered ONE child, on the theory that this first-born may have been unintentional.   A second supposedly implies malicious intent! (I call this the Double Damaso Rule).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Notoriously Offending the Religious Feelings of the Faithful

This cause celebre  pits the Catholic Church hierarchy against Manila's most famous Tourist Guide of the Nineteenth Century,  Carlos Celdran, who recently entered  a plea of  "Not Guilty!" to criminal charges brought against him by Monsignor Nestor Cerbo, Director of the Archdiocesan Office of Research and Development of the Arzobispado de Manila.  Msgr. Cerbo is also the Rector of the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros.  At the heart of the criminal proceeding Cerbo v. Celdran is the following Law:

Revised Penal Code of the Philippines 
Section Four. — Crimes against religious worship
Art. 133. Offending the religious feelings. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.

This Law can put convicted parties in prison for up to six years, so these are serious allegations that the Good Monsignor Cerbo makes against Mr. Carlos Celdran.  But as we no longer live under the Theocracy that once reigned here with Sword and Cross,  under the Constitution Carlos Celdran is innocent until proven guilty in a Court of Law of the crimes alleged.

In my opinion, proving his guilt in a Court of Law will be extremely difficult.  (And hugely entertaining for the Court of Public Opinion!)  Towards these ends, I propose to lend some assistance and advice to the Prosecution and the Accuser, Msgr. Nestor Cerbo by making the following observations...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

JPE Appeals for Judicial Restraint from Supreme Court

(Editor's Note: The Office of the Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile just released a  PRESS STATEMENT on the plagiarism issue that has engulfed the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines. I reproduce the Statement verbatim below as received by email.)
27 October 2010
Ref: Yvonne Caunan/ Lizette Nepomuceno
Tel. 5526782; 5526691

On the Supreme Court’s Order to U.P. Law Faculty to show cause why they should not be liable for Indirect Contempt for their statement regarding the issue of plagiarism in the Decision in the case of Vinuya vs. Executive Secretary


I feel compelled to express my humble position on the issue of the Supreme Court’s order for the Dean and the members of the faculty of my alma mater, the College of Law of the University of the Philippines, to show cause why they should not be cited for indirect contempt for issuing and publishing a statement denouncing the plagiarism committed by one of its Associate Justices and to justify why they should not be administratively sanctioned and disciplined.

The Supreme Court had adopted and promulgated its decision by a majority vote in the case of Vinuya et al vs. Executive Secretary (G.R. No. 162230) involving the petition of the victims of rape and sexual slavery committed by the Japanese forces against the so-called Filipina “comfort women” during the Second World War. Thus, understandably, the Highest Court of the land was not spared from the U.P. Law faculty’s statement expressing criticism and indignation over the blatant act of intellectual dishonesty and misrepresentation by the ponente of the decision.

As a member of the Philippine Bar, I am fully cognizant that all of us in the law profession are officers of the Court. The practice of law as a profession is a privilege granted to each of us by the Court, and we are bound by rules of ethical conduct, especially in the manner by which we are required at all times to accord the Court utmost respect. In the practice of our profession, whether as counsels, litigators, advocates, or professors, we are subject to the Supreme Court’s disciplinary powers.

But I hasten to add that our duty to conduct ourselves properly as members of the Bar carries with it the serious duty to protect the Court’s honor and integrity as an institution devoted to the dispensation of justice. The Supreme Court, no less, being the final arbiter in the resolution of disputes that affect both individual and State rights, legal obligations and duties, must be protected against any act, even and more so by one of its own, which in any way would compromise, diminish or weaken its moral, intellectual and institutional integrity.

I understand that no less than three international authors have written the Supreme Court to call attention not only to the lack of attribution of obviously lifted and copied portions of the work of the original authors found in the Vinuya decision, but also to the misrepresentation in the use of the plagiarized material to support conclusions which are far from and in fact opposite to the context of the original works from which they were lifted.

Plagiarism is a grievous affront not only to the Supreme Court itself but to the Philippine judicial system. To claim as one’s own the intellectual work of another without proper attribution is theft of intellectual property. Such practice has no place especially in the drafting, preparation, debates, discussions and decisions of our courts, most especially, the Supreme Court.

When the Highest Court’s attention was invited to the plagiarism, the public, not only the academe, rightly expected that the Court would make sure that such reprehensible conduct would not be allowed to stain the Court’s reputation.

The tenuous justification offered as an excuse for the non-attribution of copied intellectual material, followed by the adoption by the majority of the questioned ponencia on a most sensitive and internationally significant issue such as the right of the “comfort women” to demand the State’s action on their behalf, has stirred much concern and controversy.

The latest action of the Supreme Court, being just a step away from punishing those who wished to voice out and protest what they honestly believed to be a serious wrongdoing on the part of an Associate Justice and a mistake on the part of the Court, has only served to add pain to the aggrieved parties and to spark a fiery debate between the Court on the one hand, and the legal academe and their sympathizers among the members of the Bar and the public on the other.

In the face of such a serious ethical breach on the part of the decision’s ponente, and with all due respect to the majority of the Court who decided to adopt the ponencia, thus making it its own and a part of Philippine jurisprudence, I strongly believe that sadly, the Supreme Court has made itself vulnerable to and must render itself open to legitimate criticism.

I respectfully submit that the Supreme Court’s independence, honor and integrity were not besmirched by the release of the U.P. Law faculty’s statement. The Court’s independence, honor and integrity, including its moral ascendancy, have been placed under a dark cloud of doubt unfortunately by the intellectual dishonesty of one of its own.

The power and majesty of the Supreme Court is too awesome for anyone to trifle with or ignore. As a legislator, public servant, and as a humble member of the Bar, I would like to respectfully appeal to the Supreme Court to exercise restraint in using its disciplinary hand to exact punishment or retribution from those who may disagree with the correctness and wisdom of its decision.

Freedom of expression which embraces academic freedom may be orphaned should our Highest Court choose to use its strong hand when it feels bruised or hurt, rather than to act as its faithful guardian. Ultimately, it is the Supreme Court, acting as the stronghold of civil liberties and rising above its own frailties, which is in the best position to cleanse itself and its ranks and repair the damage brought upon its image before the nation and before the world.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why SCoRP Owes UP Law Faculty a Debt of Gratitude

The Supreme Court Decision alleged to contain plagiarized passages  Vinuya vs. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 162230 (28 April 2010) has not become final and executory because a Motion for Reconsideration on the substance of that Decsion has not been ruled upon.  Of course in A.M. 10-7-17-SC (the administrative matter In Re Del Castillo) the Court has basically ruled that there was no INTENTIONAL PLAGIARISM in the preparation of that Decision, indeed no plagiarism at all but merely "editing errors" by an unnamed assistant of the ponente, Associate Justice Mariano C. del Castillo.

I am prepared to concede this ruling simply because the Decision has not been promulgated as final and executory.  There is only the potential of plagiarism being committed if it is promulgated AS IS, without the so-called "editing errors" being corrected or properly acknowledged.

In a way, the Supreme Court has painted itself into a corner. By insisting there is NO PLAGIARISM in their April 28 Decision, they would have no reason to change anything relating to those passages not properly attributed without admitting that the Decision is invalid as it stands for the particular kind of FORM VIOLATION recognized internationally as plagiarism.

By a parity of reasoning however, if the Supreme Court allows the Decision to stand as is, and promulgates Vinuya v. Romulo as final and executory,  a part of the Law of the Land, an official ACT of the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines (SCoRP), then they could deservedly be accused of committing INTENTIONAL PLAGIARISM.

There is another interesting aspect of this.  By filing a Motion for Reconsideration and supplementing that with the criticism that plagiarism objectively exists in the assailed Decision, Petitioners have actually given the Supreme Court an opportunity to correct the very grievous form violations of internationally accepted norms in using the intellectual works of others.

For imagine if there had been no Motion for Reconsideration and the Decision had passed into Law with finality and executory power, then the plagiarism was discovered!

I would say the Supreme Court owes the UP Law Faculty a debt of gratitude.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Who Owns The Alleged Plagiarism?

The Supreme Court Decision Vinuya v. Romulo is believed by many both here and abroad to be polluted with plagiarism, whether intentional or not.  Indeed the very authors involved have even communicated to the Supreme Court their criticism of the inappropriate utilization of their work -- both in FORM and in SUBSTANCE. Not only were requisite attributions and references to them missing, but the allegedly purloined ideas and formulations were also used to come to an entirely opposite conclusion about the matter at hand--war time rape whose victims have cried to the Court for help.  Just today, Yale University's constitutional authority, Prof. Bruce Ackerman has weighed in on the matter and warned the  Court that it could lose a lot of face with the international community over their recent actions.

Unfortunately the Mass Media and many commentators seem to have ignored the question asked in this post: Who owns the alleged plagiarism? Even the UP LAW faculty statement accuses the PONENTE or penman assigned by the Chief Justice to write up the Court's opinion: Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo.

Yet the simple and obvious fact is that under the Constitution there is nothing that empowers a single Justice to issue a Decision as his own work. The Supreme Court under  1987 Article VIII only ever issues Decisions and Resolutions as a collegial body, in Divisions with a minimum of three justices or sitting En Banc.

The assailed Decision, Vinuya v. Romulo, was an En Banc Decision. It is in form and substance  entirely an ACT of the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines (SCoRP), and with all its flaws and pollutions, it is presumed to be part of the Law of the Land. The En Banc itself is responsible for this ACT, not Del Castillo, not his unnamed Court Researcher, and most certainly not the programmers of a well known word processing program.

Had the UP Law Faculty made this identification explicitly, instead of focusing only on Del Castillo, the present Show Cause Order why they ought not to be disciplined with disbarment, suspension or worse, would be more obviously a self-serving and unethical judging of their own cause by the Supreme Court Justices with concurred unqualifiedly with the ponencia.

Intent Is Not Essential To Plagiarism

The essential insight of dissenting Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is that in order to exonerate Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo of plagiarism charges in preparing for the En Banc its Decision in the case of Vinuya versus Romulo, the Majority introduced a most troublesome innovation:
The unfortunate ruling of the majority Decision that no plagiarism was committed stems from its failure to distinguish between the determination of the objective, factual existence of plagiarism in the Vinuya decision[1] and the determination of the liability that results from a finding of plagiarism. Specifically, it made “malicious intent”, which heretofore had not been relevant to a finding of plagiarism, an essential element.
She then details the internationally recognized FORMS of plagiarism and identifies their objective existence in Vinuya and criticizes the Court for "against the overwhelming conventions on what constitutes plagiarism."  

Plagiarism is thus akin to a crime like MANSLAUGHTER. You may not have intended to hit the pedestrian, but if you killed or maimed him or her, the death or injury is an objective and readily verifiable fact for which you are liable under the Law. The Supreme Court cannot be above this very logic. Worse it ought not to be introducing judicial innovations for the mere purpose of self-preservation that now aids and abets both plagiarists and copyright violators.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Open Appeal to International Legal Scholars

(I ask all Philippine Commentary and Global Post readers, correspondents and bloggers to give the letter below the greatest possible circulation in the Philippines and abroad--Dean Jorge Bocobo) 

An Open Appeal to International Legal Scholars

by Professor Diane A. Desierto, University of the Philippines College of Law 

Dear friends and fellow legal scholars,

I apologize for this long note, but I thought I should set the record straight on the maelstrom of ongoing institutional persecution against the UP Law Faculty, where I serve as a faculty member. Several hours ago, a majority at the Philippine Supreme Court issued an unprecedented contempt order for the “Statement of the Faculty of the UP College of Law”, naming 37 out of 81 faculty members (including five present and former deans, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court now back in the faculty, among other senior academics and junior faculty members) whose physical signatures appeared in the Statement. Many faculty members support this Statement, but, as is customary, did not need to physically sign the Statement so long as we signified our support over email. For this reason, many of us understand the contempt order to eventually extend to all 81 members of the UP College of Law. All our bar licenses, without which we cannot teach, work, or practice as lawyers, are now at stake.

Let me narrate the brief factual background of this case:

1. On April 28, 2010, the Philippine Supreme Court issued its decision in Isabelita Vinuya et al. v. Executive Secretary et al. (full text of this decision available at: ). This case involved a certiorari petition of most remaining Filipina survivors of the “comfort women system” during World War II, asking the Court to compel the Executive Branch to exercise its constitutional duties and international obligations, in order to ensure these Filipina survivors’ their rights to redress. I wrote this petition as a law student of UP Law in 2004 along with UP Law Professor Harry Roque, theorizing then that our broadly universalist 1987 Philippine Constitution imposed unique constitutional duties on the Philippine President to observe our international legal obligations, including the right to redress for war crimes, mass rapes, and sexual slavery. Professor Roque and I published our analysis and theory of the petition in 2006, in the Journal of International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict. (full text of this available at: Relevant pages are pp. 91-98). 

2. The Vinuya decision denied the petition. Professor Roque filed an initial Motion for Reconsideration, subject to the submission of a more extended Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration (Supplemental MR) under the Philippine Rules of Court. Professor Roque and his colleague, Attorney Romel Bagares, closely coordinated with me in the preparation of the Supplemental MR . After we discussed the legal arguments, I requested Attorney Bagares to recheck all sources cited in the Vinuya decision, as is customary for us in preparing appellate pleadings. Several days later, Attorney Bagares and Professor Roque discovered that many significant portions of the Vinuya decision appeared to have been lifted without attribution from the works of International Law authors (Professor Evan Criddle and Professor Evan Fox-descent’s 2009 Article in the Yale Journal of International Law, titled “A Fiduciary Theory of Jus Cogens”; the book of Dr. Christian Tams, titled Enforcing Erga Omnes Obligations in International Law, published by Cambridge University Press; and an article by Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar Association, in the 2006 volume of Case Western Journal of International Law, entitled “Breaking the Silence: On Rape as an International Crime”). What was worse than the lifting without attribution of these sources was that the Vinuya Decision completely twisted what the authors said in their works. Professor Roque and Attorney Bagares decided to file the Supplemental MR inviting the Philippine Supreme Court’s attention to this grave matter, showing that the misrepresentation of these works erroneously laid the foundation for the Court’s decision to deny the petition. The Supplemental MR also included the rest of the arguments of the petition. The full text of the Supplemental MR can be found here:

3. All International Law professors/authors came forward with their separate complaints to the Philippine Supreme Court regarding the misuse of their works. Unfortunately, FB doesn't have an attachment function yet, so I will repost in a separate note the letters of Dr. Christian Tams, Mark Ellis to the Philippine Supreme Court. Professor Evan Criddle posted his complaint on Opinio Juris at this link: 

a) Professor Criddle told Opinio Juris: “Speaking for myself, the most troubling aspect of the court’s jus cogens discussion is that it implies that the prohibitions against crimes against humanity, sexual slavery, and torture are not jus cogens norms. Our article emphatically asserts the opposite.” 

b) Dr. Tams’ letter said: “The relevant passage of the judgment is to be found on p. 30 of your Court’s Judgment, in the section addressing the concept of obligations erga omnes. As the table annexed to this letter shows, the relevant sentences were taken almost word by word from the introductory chapter of my book Enforcing Obligations Erga Omnes in International Law (Cambridge University Press 2005). I note that there is a generic reference to my work in footnote 69 of the Judgment, but as this is in relation to a citation from another author (Bruno Simma) rather than with respect to the substantive passages reproduced in the Judgment, I do not think it can be considered an appropriate form of referencing. I am particularly concerned that my work should have been used to support the Judgment’s cautious approach to the erga omnes concept. In fact, a most cursory reading shows that my book’s central thesis is precisely the opposite: namely that the erga omnes concept has been widely accepted and has a firm place in contemporary international law….With due respect to your Honourable Court, I am at a loss to see how my work should have been cited to support – as it seemingly has – the opposite approach. More generally, I am concerned at the way in which your Honourable Court’s judgment has drawn on scholarly work without properly acknowledging it.”

c) Mr. Ellis’ letter said: “My attention was called to the Judgment and the issue of possible plagiarism by the Philippine Chapter of the Southeast Asia Media Legal Defence Initiative (SEAMLDI), an affiliate of the London based Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) where I sit as a trustee. In particular, I am concerned about a large part of the extensive discussion in footnote 65, pp. 27-28, of the Judgment of your esteemed Court. I am also concerned that your esteemed Court may have misread the arguments I made in the article and employed them for cross purposes. This would be ironic since the article was written precisely to argue for the appropriate legal remedy for victims of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.”

4. When Philippine national media carried these complaints, the Philippine Supreme Court did not appear disposed to take them seriously. The Court Spokesperson/Court Administrator, Midas Marquez, stated that the “You can’t expect all justices of the Supreme Court to be familiar with these law journals.”

5. In light of the apparent plagiarism and twisting of the works in the text of the Vinuya Decision and the Court’s predispositions, the UP Law Faculty issued a Statement asking the Court to take responsibility and to provide guidance to the Philippine bench and bar. The UP Law Faculty, headed by the present Dean Marvic M.V.F. Leonen and other law deans, expressed alarm at how the works were misused to deny a key petition of comfort women survivors, and asked the ponente of the Vinuya Decision, Justice Mariano del Castillo to voluntarily resign from the Court. The full text of the UP Law Faculty Statement can be found here:

6. On Friday, October 15, 2010, a majority of ten members of the Philippine Supreme Court issued a resolution denying that Justice del Castillo had committed plagiarism and misuse of plagiarized works, holding that Justice del Castillo’s clerk/court researcher accidentally deleted the attributions, which could not have been detected since “the Microsoft word program does not have a function that raises an alarm when original materials are cut up or pruned.” The full text of the decision can be found here:

7. The newest member of the Court, Justice Lourdes Aranal-Sereno, strongly dissented along with (Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales) from the Court’s findings and showed why plagiarism and misrepresentation was committed not just through deletions of attributions, but due to the deliberate inclusion of phrases that tried to convey the opposite of what the authors’ works said. Saying that the court will be remembered for saying Del Castillo did not commit plagiarism because there was "no malicious intent" to pass off someone else's works as his own, Justice Sereno added that the ruling of the court's majority has caused "unimaginable problems" for the Philippine academe. She explained decisions on future cases of plagiarism committed by students will be based on the court's ruling that malicious intent must be present to constitute plagiarism. "Unless reconsidered, this Court would unfortunately be remembered as the Court that made 'malicious intent' an indispensable element of plagiarism and that made computer-keying errors an exculpatory fact in charges of plagiarism, without clarifying whether its ruling applies only to situations of judicial decision-making or to other written intellectual activity," said Sereno. "It will also weaken this Court’s disciplinary authority ─ the essence of which proceeds from its moral authority ─ over the bench and bar. In a real sense, this Court has rendered tenuous its ability to positively educate and influence the future of intellectual and academic discourse," she added. The full text of the Sereno dissent can be found here:

8. On Monday, October 18, 2010, various Philippine national media carried the news that the Philippine Supreme Court had deliberated and decided to hold the UP Law Faculty in contempt for its Statement. See and , among others.

9. Copies of the Court’s seven-page Order were finally seen several hours ago. As will be seen from the full text of the Order and the dissenting opinions (I will repost this file in a separate note), the Court majority made the unprecedented move of holding the UP Law Faculty in contempt, until they can show why they do not merit contempt. Three justices of the Court noted this prejudgment in their dissents: 

CARPIO-MORALES, j., dissenting:

"The Resolution demonstrates nothing but an abrasive flexing of the judicial muscle that could hardly be characterized as judicious. This knee-jerk response from the Court stares back at its own face, since this judicial act is one that is "totally unnecessary, uncalled for and a rash act of misplaced vigilance.


The adverse declarations describing the written work of the UP law faculty operate to their prejudice since that would render any subsequent proceeding illusory, because the Court, which would ultimately decide the administrative case, has already made up its mind before hearing the parties.

Worse, the Resolution is not what it purports to be. Ostensibly, the Resolution is a show cause order that initiates what would merely become a newly docketed regular administrative matter. There is more than meets the eye, however. When stripped of its apparent complexion, the Resolution shows its true colors and presents itself as a pronouncement of guilt of indirect contempt, without proper recourse left to the parties. 


Unless the Court intends to busy itself into consistently engaging in a judicial witch hunt against its detractors, it is more in keeping with the Court's dignity not to dignify each and every write-up that is taken to vilify it, and console itself with the number of testimonials, written or living that vilify the judiciary. 

Although as a human being, a person naturally gets pissed off by hurtful words, it would not hurt the Court as an institution and the law as a profession if it passes off the statement of the UP law faculty at this time." 

SERENO, j., dissenting.

"Ordering the 37 respondent members of the UP law faculty to "show cause" in this indirect contempt case is like ordering the little boy who exclaimed that "the emperor has no clothes" to explain why he should be crucified for his public observation. It is true that the little boy may have aggravated the situation by adding that the unclothed emperor did not present a flattering figure in his natural state, but the analogy remains true -- that the subject UP law faculty members have been prematurely adjudged guilty and asked to explain why such prejudgment should be reversed simply for expressing what they believed was the truth. 


What is so grievous about this whole contempt proceeding is that it comes in the wake of the gross injury that the Court has inflicted upon the virtue of honesty in learned discourses by labeling plagiarism as not plagiarism in the related case involving one of its members. 

With all due respect to my colleagues, it is not the place of the Court to seek revenge against those who, in their wish to see reform in the judiciary, have the courage to say what is wrong with it. The Court finds its legitimacy in demonstrating its moral vein case after case, not in flaunting its judicial brawn. There is nothing to be gained for the administration of justice in not letting his one instance pass just because feelings have been hurt and the urge to retaliate must be satisfied. 

If the 37 members of the UP law faculty are wrong, there will be recompense in their loss of esteem among the academic community and the legal profession. But if they are right, then the Court will have made martyrs out of those who -- in their temporary passion --- may have acted recklessly, but truthfully and sincerely. Indeed, should they be proven right they may even rise in the esteem in the eyes of the international academic and legal circles, for being the object of prosecution by one's Supreme Court for bold but intelligent reformist language can be deemed a badge of honor similar to that bequeathed by history to the great thinkers who were persecuted by society's forces." 

In view of the blatant institutional persecution now being committed against the UP Law Faculty --- who discharged their duties in good faith as public servants, law professors, and officers of the Court in asking the Court to take responsibility for the apparent plagiarism and misrepresentation that tainted the Vinuya decision --- I urgently plead for the help of fellow legal scholars and academics to write --- either public statements, or letters to their embassies in Manila regarding this matter. As the dissenting Justices have disclosed, the Supreme Court majority has already prejudged this matter, and that same majority will prevail in imposing sanctions (from disbarment, to suspension of bar licenses, fines, imprisonment) on the UP Law Faculty. We cannot realistically expect a fair hearing anymore when the majority acts as both the supposed “injured” party and our judge at the same time. We acted in good faith, conscious of our duties as lawyers and legal scholars, to ensure the preservation of integrity in our jurisprudence ---- we could not anticipate then, nor would we have accepted now as law professors and members of the Philippine legal academia, the Supreme Court majority’s defense that Microsoft Word was responsible for failing to detect the plagiarism and misrepresentation. The objective fact of plagiarism and misrepresentation are glaring from the text of Vinuya, as confirmed by the international law professors whose works were used, and as confirmed by the extensive dissent of Justice Sereno. Most importantly, we acted from our sense of justice and duty as lawyers to promote the rule of law, on behalf of those comfort women survivors whose petition was denied through a decision-making process that apparently relied on plagiarized and misrepresented works of international law authors.

Our only hope now is for reason from the rest of the world to prevail against this institutional persecution --- the glaring and ongoing threats to our constitutional and international rights to freedom of expression and academic freedom. While it appears that only 37 of the 81 faculty members signed the UP Law Faculty Statement, the Court majority overlooked all the names sent in the original list by Dean Marvic Leonen. It has been our practice to signify support for statements electronically through email or discussions in our faculty egroup, and for many of us abroad it was not necessary to physically sign so long as we expressed our support for the statement to the faculty egroup. We expect, therefore, that it will only be a matter of time before the contempt order is extended to all of us. We will not shirk from our part in having supported the UP Law Faculty Statement.

We fervently hope for your help in this fight against institutional persecution. We have no recourse left. 

Very truly yours,

Professor Diane A. Desierto, University of the Philippines College of Law

Law Reform Specialist, Institute of International Legal Studies, University of the Philippines

JSD candidate (2014), LLM (2009), Yale Law School

* IMPORTANT: This NOTE in NO WAY represents the views of the International Court of Justice or any of its staff. This Note was written in my private capacity, SOLELY as a member of the UP Law Faculty.